Science centre Chief Executive exports expertise to China

Media contact: Nicola McIntosh, Communications Manager, Centre for Life

T: 0191 2438209 E: nicola.mcintosh@life.org.uk M: 07941801552

Linda Conlon

Having set up and run one of the UK’s leading science centres for the past 16 years, Linda Conlon is heading to China to share her knowledge with the country’s growing science centre industry.

Linda Conlon, MBE, Chief Executive of Newcastle’s International Centre for Life and Chair of the Association of Science and Technology Centres, ASTC, the global body representing science centres and museums, is heading to China to advise the country’s science centre industry on how to establish and maintain audiences through engaging science communication.

During her two-week visit, Linda will join a line-up of industry experts who have been invited to address the annual conference of the Asia Pacific Network of Science and Technology Centres, ASPAC 2016.

The conference, which will take place at China Science and Technology Museum (CSTM) in Beijing from 17-20 May, will be attended by senior science centre representatives from across the Asia-Pacific region.

Linda, whose address to the conference will focus on the theme of “Science Centres for All”, said: “Science Centres across the world are the same - but different. We are united in our quest to make science accessible, relevant and inspiring for people of all ages and backgrounds. But we are different in size and scale, in how we are funded and the challenges and opportunities facing each one of us in our respective communities are quite distinct and unique. In China, the sector is still in its infancy with those running the newly built venues keen to learn about the different ways of engaging people in science. Listening to and learning from each other, therefore, is critical.”

She added: “The Chinese government is to be commended for building science centres throughout china and for placing such importance on scientific education and literacy.”

Linda will meet with senior science centre mangers from across China to discuss how western science centres have evolved to adapt to changes in an increasingly competitive marketplace. She will also be talking about how to retain visitor numbers, a key element to the success of any visitor centre.

As Chair of the ASTC, Linda’s role is to promote excellence and innovation in learning outside of the formal environment of schools and academic institutions, an area in which the Centre for Life has achieved particular success, not least as the home of the UK’s annual Maker Faire – a gathering of people who make and invent and who share their skills and experience with the public.

The concept of making and the maker culture is gaining popularity in China, in both the country’s science education and its science centres. During her time in China, Linda will meet with the head of the Chinese Society of Education and members of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation (SCLF) to look at ways they can work together and draw on Life’s experiences to introduce making activities in both formal and informal science education settings across China.

She added: “This visit is particularly timely as the sector makes preparations for the first ever International Science Centre Day in November and for the World Summit next year in Tokyo.”

Linda has previously travelled to China with the British Council in 2004 and 2006 advising on the setting up of science centres and their sustainability.

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Notes to editors:

About Linda Conlon: Linda Conlon is responsible for managing the International Centre for Life, a £90m science village in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. It brings together a University medical research institute, two National Health Service clinics, biotechnology businesses, science engagement and education, and ethics on a single site, all with the aim of promoting advancement of science. This unique project has fostered inter-disciplinary collaboration among the 550-strong workforce, achieving some spectacular results – e.g. the world’s first cloned human embryo was created at the Centre.

The Centre is financially self-sustaining through its own income generation efforts and does not receive revenue funding from central or local government. It recently won the 2016 Not for Profit Organisation of the Year Award at the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.

Linda Conlon is Chair of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, a body representing over 600 science centres from over 50 countries. She is also a member of the International Committee, which is charged with delivering the next Science Centre World Summit in Japan in 2017. She is a former board member of the European Collaboration of Science and Discovery Centres (Ecsite), and a former chair of its UK equivalent.

Linda is a governor of the Laidlaw Schools Trust which manages a number of schools in the West End of Newcastle and is a business mentor for small charities and voluntary groups in North East England. She is an executive member of NE1, the Business Improvement District Company for Newcastle, and chairs its marketing task force. Previously, she was a non-executive director of the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust. In 2016 she was awarded an MBE for services to science and science education.

She has travelled extensively, lecturing and advising other bodies setting up science centres in the UK, Europe, the United States and China. She will deliver a keynote speech at the Asia Pacific Association of Science Centres conference in May 2016 in Beijing.

Linda Conlon's career before the world of science centres was in regional development and urban regeneration, where she was involved in the creation of major high profile waterfront developments, helping to bring in £1 billion of investment. Before that, she ran her own marketing consultancy and in her early career, worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the multi-national company, Procter and Gamble.

About ASTC: Founded in 1973, ASTC has over 650 members in 50 countries. It includes not only science centres and museums, but also nature centres, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, space theatres, and natural history and children’s museums. Its members also include companies that offer products and services to the field and non-profit organisations that have an interest in science education. www.astc.org

The Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (ASPAC) is an association of science centres, museums and related organisations, with a regional focus on the Asia Pacific region.

ASPAC draws its membership from over twenty countries and administrative regions in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North America. Members include science centres, science museums, children's museums and exhibit design and fabrication firms.

For these member organisations, ASPAC provides a forum for interaction with peers, vendors and clients. The annual ASPAC Conference is the primary opportunity to meet, network, share information and do business with industry partners in the region and beyond. This conference is hosted by a different Full Member institution each year.

About the China Science and Technology Museum

As the only national museum of science and technology in China, China Science and Technology Museum is a large-scale institution for public science education with the mandate of implementing the national strategies of revitalizing China through science and education, strengthening the nation with talents, and promoting the Chinese people's scientific literacy.

Located within the common domain of the Beijing Olympic Green, China Science and Technology Museum borders the Olympic water system in the west, is adjacent to the National Stadium (better known as the Bird's Nest in the south), and faces the Forest Park in the north; it covers a land area of 48,000 square meters and has a construction floorage of 102,000 square meters. In essence, the museum constitutes an important component of the common domain of the Beijing Olympic Green, which embodies the concepts of "Green Olympics, High-tech Olympics and Humanistic Olympics".

Since the opening of the new location of China Science and Technology Museum on September 16, 2009, it has welcomed a combined total of over 20 million visits. Every year, the museum attracts an average of 3.2 million visits from across the country.

The China Soong Ching Ling Foundation (CSCLF)

The mission of CSCLF is to promote friendly international relations and safeguard world peace; to strengthen exchanges across Taiwan Straits and advance reunification of Motherland; to show concerns for the future of the nation and develop children's work.

Member

International Centre for Life

Science in the 21st century is proving to be fast moving, potentially life-enhancing and certainly controversial. Life has grown out of a desire to deliver a science centre for the North East that is forward looking and seeks to offer these leading edge ideas in a form that is easily accessible to everyone.